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BPI rankings released: My Top 5

Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports
Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

It's the middle of December and college basketball is heating up. Conference season is only about two weeks away and teams are starting to find their place in the rankings. 

Purdue (11-0) finds themselves in 9th place in the AP poll and 8th in the USA Today Coaches poll, but in the first BPI (Basketball Power Index) rankings the Boilermakers stand alone at the top. 

The BPI rankings are probably the most difficult to understand as a number of different variables go into creating them, but they are a great way to evaluate teams beyond simply their win loss record. BPI also considers strength and weakness of opponents, scores of the games, pace of play and also accounts for the absence of key players in each game. The BPI gives people the full picture and can be very helpful when deciding on an NCAA tournament field and predicting how well teams will do once they reach the Big Dance.

Here is the current BPI Top 5:

Now take a look at how different the AP and Coaches' Polls are:

BPI clearly doesn't agree with the current college hoops rankings as Oklahoma and Michigan State are the only teams that appear on all three ranking lists. Kansas, Kentucky and Iowa State are all included in the Top 5 on both the AP Top 25 and the Coaches Poll, but rank 24th, 17th and 6th in the BPI respectively. 

Another popular college basketball website for stat nerds is the Kenpom College Basketball Ratings site. Here is kenpom's current Top 10:

The more polls, rankings and statistical analysis that comes out, the more confusing it becomes to really decide on the truly elite teams in college basketball, but that's what makes it so much fun to watch. In college basketball there's always an upset waiting to happen. 

Here's my Top 5:

1. Michigan State (11-0)

The Spartans have big wins over No. 2 Kansas and No. 19 Louisville and another respectable win over Florida. With the way Denzel Valentine and the rest of the Spartans have looked so far this season, it's hard not to have them comfortably at the top of the rankings.

2. Purdue (11-0)

The Boilermakers have double-digit wins over Florida, New Mexico and Pitt. I watched Pitt play in person and Jamie Dixon has a very impressive squad this year, which I believe can surprise some teams in the ACC. Purdue has a much stronger overall résumé than a lot of other top teams, so they deserve this spot at No. 2. However, their next game against No. 17 Butler will go a long way in determining just how good Purdue is.

3. Xavier (10-0)

People don't realize how special this Xavier team is because they aren't named Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, etc. However, Xavier is 10-0 and they may currently hold the strongest résumé at this point in the season. Although they can't boast a Top 10 win, they have racked up a number of impressive wins: at Michigan by 16, vs. Alabama by 19, vs. USC by 10 (were leading by 30 in the first half), vs. Dayton by 29 and vs. No. 23 Cincinnati by 10 in the Crosstown Shootout. The wins over Alabama, USC, and Dayton were all neutral site games and part of the Advocare Invitational in which the Musketeers won. 

4. Oklahoma (7-0)

Fresh off their football team solidifying a spot in the College Football Playoff, the Sooners men's basketball team has stormed off to a 7-0 start in order to ensure they don't get lost in the football hype. Their résumé isn't anything too special, but a huge win over No. 12 Villanova and victories over Memphis and Wisconsin are enough to secure them a spot inside my Top 5. Big 12 play will definitely test the Sooners, so we will wait and see how they respond.

5. Kansas (8-1) 

Kansas' only loss is to my top ranked team, Michigan State. However, the Jayhawks also beat both Vanderbilt and UCLA. I believe they are the most impressive team out of the rest of the top pack: Duke, Kentucky and Iowa State.